MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo wants the Supreme Court (SC) to junk the request of her rival ex-senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr to stop the use of ballot images and election returns (ERs) in the electoral protest he filed against Robredo.
Robredo’s lawyers Romy Macalintal and Bernadette Sardillo filed on Friday, November 16, their comment and opposition to the motion for partial reconsideration Marcos filed with the SC, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on October 5.
“Protestant Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr is confused. In seeking a partial reconsideration of the resolution dated 18 September 2018, protestant Marcos presents confusing and misleading arguments,” said Robredo’s lawyers.
“It is quite clear that protestant Marcos is completely misguided and grasping at imaginary straws,” they added.
Marcos filed his appeal against a September 18 ruling of the PET, where the tribunal ruled to do away with the contentious shading threshold as basis for segregating ballots in the vice presidential electoral protest. (READ: SC ruling 'like last nail in coffin' of VP protest – Robredo)
Instead, the Head Revisors – those tasked to determine if ballots are valid, rejected, or stray – are ordered to use the ERs to verify the total number of votes as read and counted by the vote-counting machines (VCMs).
The PET also rejected Marcos’ strong opposition against the use of decrypted ballot images, with the latter arguing these were supposedly “compromised” due to the presence of square marks. Marcos said these marks allegedly indicate electoral fraud.
But the PET ruled that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given sufficient proof showing that the said square marks are “intended merely to facilitate in the determination by the VCM of ballot shading, i.e., whether the shade has met the proper threshold.”
What did Marcos say in his motion for partial reconsideration? Marcos continues to oppose the use of the decrypted ballot images.
His lawyers George Garcia and and Joan Padilla reiterated their camp’s previous accusations that the ballot images have already been tampered with.
“Clearly, the decrypted ballot images which contain squares are not faithful images of the original paper ballots used during the 2016 elections. Hence, the same cannot be relied upon for purposes of the judicial recount and revision proceedings,” said Marcos’ lawyers.
They added that the Comelec's explanation regarding the square marks is “not worth of belief and credence.”
“The use of the decrypted ballot images as substitute for the original paper ballots during the judicial revision and recount proceedings should be prohibited and disallowed as these are not faithful reproductions and representations of the original paper ballots during the last 9 May 2016 elections,” said Marcos’ lawyers.
They are also against the use of the ERs in the electoral protest, calling it a “simplistic approach.”
“With all due respect, this simplistic approach of this Honorable Tribunal on the manner of conducting the segregation and classification of ballots will obviously defeat the very nature and purpose of an election protest and render futile the judicial recount and revision proceedings,” said Marcos’ legal counsels.
They cited Rosal v Comelec, where they quoted the SC as saying, “Such a proceeding is usually instituted on the theory that the elections returns… do not accurately reflect the true will of the voters due to alleged irregularities that attended the counting of ballots.”
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How did Robredo’s lawyers respond? The Vice President’s camp said Marcos has failed to provide new and concrete evidence against the use of ERs and ballot images in the recount process.
“The simple and undeniable truth is that protestant Marcos has failed to present any evidence to substantiate his allegations of massive electoral anomalies, fraud, and irregularities,” said Macalintal and Sardillo.
“In seeking a reconsideration of the resolution dated 18 September 2018, protestant Marcos merely reiterated his previous baseless arguments,” Robredo’s lawyers added.